If there is one song or hymn or piece that I want played at my funeral it would be this hymn. Where my last post, “The Church’s One Foundation,” is a hymn that reflects that which gives me comfort and meaning in this life. I am so often lost and lonely. I both love and shun the company of others and I tend to wallow in what is likely an unhealthy about of self guilt and loathing. All this, even though I affirm a gospel that I believe to be my faith alone, apart from works and by the all-sufficient grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ. I am, in short, unwarrantedly egotistical and yet unhealthily self-effacing. Though all this, this hymn, “Abide With Me” comforts me as I travail through this life.
Often I begin evening prayers with this traditional imploration: “Abide with me, for it is evening, and the day is almost over .” To abide, loosely, means to dwell in and this hymn is merely an extension on this imploration that has been mirrored by all Christians. Written on a deathbed by Anglican Henry Francis Lyte, it shows just how important it is for us to both abide in Christ and he in us. (I find also that the tune is fittingly sombre)
I personally find that it constantly reminds me of my readings in John, especially since I’m one of those odd ones that greatly likes the Authorized version. The first verse opens with with the dawn of evening, and yet our Lord tells us that he is “come a light into the world, that whosoever believe[s] on [Jesus] should not abide in darkness” . Jesus is the light of the world, and he lights all that are in the world. So when I am singing and meditating on this hymn I say “let evening come” because whatever may befall me in that evening (physical or metaphorical suffering) shall not eclipse the light of our Saviour.
It is also of great note that our Lord tells us that that we must both abide in him and he in us for how could we even have this light if he didn’t seek us first . This is also our great comfort because no matter what we do, his abiding steadfast love will uphold and sustain us. With Christ, life is a mere transitory period, and death a mere comma. It Christ death has lost it’s sting and we can look eagerly to the day that our heavenly home is realized. This is the ultimate truth of this song, that through life and death, we who have been redeemed may abide with Christ in all that we do in this life, and no matter what harm may befall us. It also finally ends in the last stanza, not with darkness of evening, but with the final light of heaven, the hope of all Christians.
I, for one, want this to be my constant prayer for it is Jesus Christ that is brighter than all that gleams: brighter than this imperfect world, more steady than any other foundation, a better shepherd than any other. Through all may I always pray, “Lord abide with me through life and death and be my shield and strength, my portion, my helper, my friend, father, and Lord.” And I shall hope that this hymn remain a symbol of my comfort no matter what may happen in life and in death.
Lord Abide With Me, thy humble servant that I may face my awn fears and doubts and rest in thy unchanging strength. Through Jesus Christ my Lord, Amen.
Abide with me: fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide:
When other helpers fail, and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.
Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O thou who changest not, abide with me.
I need thy presence every passing hour;
What but thy grace can foil the tempter’s pow’r?
Who like thyself my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, O abide with me.
I fear no foe, with thee at hand to bless:
Ills have no weight and tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if thou abide with me.
Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes:
Shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies:
Heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee:
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.
 Luke 24.29
 John 12.46
 John 15.4-6